The Big 12 has compiled data by consultants on how to maximize its chances to make the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 has compiled data by consultants that, according to commissioner Bob Bowlsby, includes “up to 40,000 simulations from Navigate Research” on how to maximize its chances to make the College Football Playoff. It shows that the conference needs to expand to 12 teams after all—and hold a championship game. “Once we get the diagnostics done and the data analysis done, we need to get down the path and make some decisions,” Bowlsby told ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter. “There’s no sense in dragging it out.” That would be an about-face for the league.
The Big 12’s athletic directors and coaches are holding their annual spring meetings in Phoenix this week. Right after Memorial Day, the conference’s presidents will convene in Irving, Texas. Bowlsby doesn’t think anything will be decided by then, but something could happen late this summer. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “it’s believed seven of the 10 schools favor expansion. But Big 12 bylaws call for a super majority vote of 75 percent (so at least eight schools) to make a major change. Texas is believed to be influencing Texas Tech’s and TCU’s decisions to also be reluctant to expansion.”
What’s this mean for Boise State? A wing and a prayer. The Broncos are not the leader in the clubhouse for Big 12 expansion. A couple weeks ago we lined out Boise State’s advantages, success on the field and national brand, and compared them to those of Central Florida: huge enrollment, academics, population base and TV market size (No. 19, with no NFL competition), and recruiting base. Hey, not even BYU—with its success on the field and national brand—may be able to top them apples. UCF’s shocking 0-12 season last year is mitigated by the fact the Knights’ program was in the Fiesta Bowl just 2½ years ago.
Boise State is rarely included on any list of Big 12 expansion candidates. Nor is Colorado State, for that matter. The ones mentioned most are BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis and UCF, followed by Houston, UConn and South Florida. Houston is the wild card these days. The Cougars’ football program is on a roll, and the university sits in the nation’s 10th-largest TV market. UH does, however, play serious second fiddle to Houston’s pro sports (the Texans, et al) and, to a lesser extent, Texas and Texas A&M. But the Cougars are certainly a geographic fit and have a history with three current Big 12 schools through membership in the old Southwest Conference. More on Houston’s pedestal atop the Group of 5 tomorrow.
Gary Stevens is back in the Kentucky Derby Saturday, teaming up with legendary trainer Bob Baffert to ride Mor Spirit in the 142nd Run For The Roses. Stevens, the Caldwell native and one-time Capital High wrestler, is now 53 and in his fourth season since coming out of retirement. It’s been 37 years since he made his debut at Les Bois Park in 1979. Stevens has won each of the Triple Crown races three times—his last victory in the Derby was in 1997.
San Francisco has been the ticket so far for former Boise Hawk Jeff Samardzija. Over his big league career, now in its eighth season, Samardzija has always been seen as a quality pitcher who just needed to be surrounded by good people. Now he is. Last night the one-time Notre Dame wide receiver threw eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball while striking out eight in the Giants’ 3-1 win in Cincinnati. Last year with the Chicago White Sox, Samardzija was 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA. In five starts with the Giants this season, he’s 4-1 with an ERA of 3.32.
Boise State men’s tennis was left out of the NCAA Tournament yesterday. The Broncos came tantalizingly close in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, finishing as runnerup in the Mountain West after four straight championships. Coach Greg Patton likes the future. “The steady foundation (this season) was Mountain West Freshman of the Year Kyle Butters, who went 25-10 for the season, and who was victorious for 15 straight matches to end the year,” said Patton. “Absolutely amazing. But not surprising. He is going to be legendary for the Broncos.”
I don’t know how you can’t credit Boise State track and field coach Corey Ihmels and distance coach Travis Hartke for the unprecedented success the Broncos have been experiencing in distance events. Heck, let’s throw graduate assistant Jeff Howard in there—he’s the Race To Robie Creek champion. Emma Bates, the 2014 NCAA champ in the 10,000-meters, was not a flash in the pan in the Boise State program. Now another Bronco, Brenna Peloquin, has turned in the fastest freshman 10,000-meters time in the country this year, clocking a 33:03.48 in the Payton Jordan Invitational Sunday night at Stanford. That’s the second-best time in school history next to the record 32:13.48 Bates ran at the same meet a year ago, and it virtually guarantees Peloquin a spot in the NCAA West Regionals later this month.
Boise State true freshman Allie Ostrander has become one of the best runners in the nation, finishing second last fall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Ostrander is rehabbing an injury suffered at the indoor nationals earlier this year and hopes to redshirt the outdoor season in order to be ready for the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer. Senior David Elliott was a first-team All-American on the men’s side for the indoor season, during which he became the Broncos’ first sub-four minute miler.
This distance proficiency is kind of goin’ around. Rocky Mountain High’s Michael Slagowski became only the ninth high school athlete in history to run a sub-four minute mile when he clocked a 3:59.53 at the 16th annual Nike Jesuit Twilight Relays in Portland last Friday. Slagowski also has recorded the nation’s fastest prep 800 and 1,600 meters times this season. And former Middleton High star Carlos Trujillo has qualified for the Olympic marathon this summer. The one-time Pac-10 champion at Oregon got there by winning the Eugene marathon Sunday with a 2:18:54 and will represent Guatemala in Rio.
This Day In Sports…May 4, 2001, 15 years ago today:
Misfortune strikes Game 4 of the Taylor Cup Finals in Boise between the Idaho Steelheads and San Diego. Trailing two games to one, the Gulls watched their popular captain, B.J. McPherson, fall to the ice with a dislocated neck. McPherson was transported to the hospital in critical condition, and his teammates rallied furiously for a 4-3 win. Boise fans would come to McPherson’s aid, raising over $4,000 for him in the 24 hours that followed. But it was indeed a turning point for the inspired Gulls, who won the series in seven games.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)